Photo featuring Micah Gause
This International Women’s Day, we challenged ourselves to consider what femininity actually means to the women in our community. It is clear that many of us claim our feminine identity in different ways, which is extremely powerful and unifying. While that is true, our community taught us that even in all that girl power goodness, there are words that belong to certain women as a way to empower and identify themselves in a world that may otherwise misunderstand them.
We learned that “Femme” is a term used to empower queer women to claim their feminine identity as early as the the 1950s! Power babe Micah Gause, a queer woman who herself identifies as a femme, reached out to us after launching our “Unapologetically Femme” t-shirt to shed some much needed light on this word that many women, including us, may unknowingly use inappropriately.
“Femme is an intentional identity. It doesn't treat femininity as something that comes naturally, but something that is claimed. It feels like, as both a queer AND black woman, I am constantly overwritten with these pre-existing tropes about who I'm supposed to be. [...] I choose to identify as femme. It's what makes me feel like me. My version of femme wears the girliest lashes + black lipstick. My version of femme likes to build things + read books. My version of femme is a boss.” said Gause.
Like us, many brands misuse this word purely out of ignorance, and thankfully through the boldness of the LGBTQIA community, mass numbers of women in these communities have been educated on its importance. While we may not always get it right, it’s imperative for us to always have a listening ear, an understanding heart, and act as a platform to help those tell their story and express themselves freely.
Femme is a word that someone claims. It belongs to lesbian and queer women and empowers them to be confident in who they are in and outside of the lesbian community. Gause’s close friend, Candace, explains why the word is important for the community and why it shouldn’t be used by everyone.
“The word is important. It’s defining but not confining. It gives me a place in a world consumed by stereotypes. It is a QUEER word and I embrace it in all my bi-sexual, lesbian, queerness.” said Candace.
So that led us to the question — how do we help others better understand the word femme and its importance? Gause has the answer!
“To help the world better understand the word "femme," I'd say "Do your research." There's obviously a certain amount of privilege that heterosexual (specifically white) people get not having to constantly explain themselves or speak for an entire group of people. I think that if queer [folks] are telling you that this word is important to them, you should hear it and accept it.”
Creating a community where all woman feel like they are included is everything to us at LIVELY, and that includes the lesbian and queer women of our community and around the world. For us, one of the greatest things to come out of this International Women’s Day was our education on the word ”Femme”, the productive “girl-to-girl” conversations, and the friendships made in the process. With communication and compassion, we can empower each other to do anything, and to us, that’s what a real and supportive female community looks like.